Osteria has been serving fine Italian cuisine since 1987; dining here is still something of a 20th-century experience. But this South Beach favorite has retained the best attributes formerly fashioned at fine-dining establishments without subscribing to the more regrettable ones. For instance, service is executed peerlessly by professional staff members who have been with the restaurant for a long time; they know all the regulars by name and treat first-timers as though they were regulars too. Chef/partner Martin Perez sticks to textbook renditions of old-school favorites. An eggplant Parmesan starter is prepared the way Italians in a Brooklyn neighborhood might make it (excepting some zucchini slices slipped into the mix). Pasta e fagioli is pretty much like what sits on rustic Tuscan tables. Homemade pastas such as veal ravioli with pancetta and sage, and pappardelle with porcini mushrooms are but two of a number of pasta specials that stand out not only for solid execution but also for unusually high price: $28 to $34. Regular-menu pastas such as alla vongole (clams) or puttanesca go for an only slightly more reasonable $19; main courses, which include hefty steaks, veal chops, and seafood specials, range from $30 to $42. Osteria is an expensive joint, but the cuisine is consistent, and the service and personal attention are unequaled on the Beach.
Area 31, Bin 18, Chef Allen's, Escopazzo, Fratelli Lyon, Garcia's Seafood Grille & Fish Market, Hiro's Yakko-San, Lido at the Standard, the Oceanaire Seafood Room, Osteria del Teatro, Pascal's on Ponce, Sardinia, Sra. Martinez, Tap Tap, Timó